Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944)
After completing the Rijksacademie art school in Amsterdam, Mondriaan developed into a highly appreciated, naturalistic landscape painter. After some time, his painting started to become increasingly brightly coloured and primary colours started to dominate, because, as he put it, natural colours cannot depict nature's beauty. Moreover, the colourful work of Fauvists such as Matisse moved him.
In 1911, he was entranced by the work of the French Cubists, moved to France and Frenchified his name to Mondrian. He increasingly abstracted reality thereby initially utilising an earthy pallet of ochres and umbers. In contrast to the Cubists his work was strongly theosophically grounded and he viewed art as a 'slow development towards the spiritual'. Moreover, in his drive for perfect abstraction he went much further than the Cubists who, in his eyes, remained hung up on the use of realistic elements.
Mondrian spent World War I in the Netherlands which was neutral. His abstract paintings became more geometric. He wrote that: ''I am of the opinion that it is possible to arrive at an artwork that is just as strong as it is true, using horizontal and vertical lines consciously constructed, but not in a calculating manner''. He also became increasingly conscious of the empty space around the shape and strove to depict the harmony between the two.